Mindanao chessers to test PCAP reigning champ Iloilo

Lynde Salgados
Mindanao chessers to test PCAP reigning champ Iloilo

DUEL. Philippine Open champion Grandmaster Joey Antonio (at left) and Philippine Air Force stalwart Lennon Hart play to a draw in this bit of pre-pandemic tournament in Cagayan de Oro. On Saturday, September 18, their respective teams - Iloilo and Surigao - will clash for PCAP 3rd Conference rivalry. 

Lynde Salgados / Rappler

The Mindanao bets look to upstage Grandmaster Joey Antonio and the Iloilo Knights in the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines

The youth-powered Surigao Fianchetto Checkmates, who beat Team Cordova from the Province of Cebu, 12-9 in the opener, will have a real test of might when they face 2nd Conference champion Iloilo on the resumption of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines’ (PCAP) 3rd Conference rivalry via on Saturday, September 18. 

Blitz action (3 minutes with 2-second increment) starts at 7 pm, followed by the rapid contest (15 minutes without increment) at 7:30 pm.

Davao City’s National Master Jonathan Tan and youthful Air Force stalwart Lennon Hart played the heroics for Surigao’s breathtaking start against Cordova as they both unleashed a perfect 4-of-4 performance on the top boards.

NM Tan waylaid Mark Mangubat on board 1, while Hart zeroed in on Raymund Abellana on board 2 to set the tone for Surigao’s pulsating 3-point comeback win after yielding the first blitz showdown at 3-4.

NM Tan, Hart, and company retaliated in the rapid duel, 9-5 for the reversal of fortune.

A different route was taken by the pre-tournament favorites Iloilo Kisela Knights of Grandmaster Rogelio “Joey” Antonio Jr. and former child prodigy Karl Victor Ochoa who crushed Palawan, 18-3, to show that they’re still a force to reckon with.

Nonetheless, Surigao team owner and Arena Grandmaster Rey Urbiztondo said the Mindanao bets have a chance to upstage GM Antonio and the Iloilo Knights as the team was in high morale. 

Other matches on Wednesday night saw San Juan, Rizal, and Toledo pulling off similar 12.5-8.5 victory over Caloocan, Cagayan Province, and Cebu, respectively.

Pasig, Negros, and Lapu-lapu showed no mercy opposite Cavite (16.5-4.5), Iriga (15.5-5.5), and Mindoro (13-8) in that order.

This, as Manila and Olongapo edged Laguna (12-9) and Isabela (11-10).

The Cavite-born Filipino chess whiz Wesley So, who became world chess champion as a US citizen, bankrolled PCAP’s highly successful 2nd Conference.

On Wednesday’s 2nd Conference awarding and opening ceremonies of the 3rd Conference, So said he is proud of PCAP’s humble beginnings for providing opportunity and development for “my dear kababayans in the Philippines.”

“It is amazing the way PCAP has grown in such a short time,” the US-based So said. “From the Draft Day in December of last year to the present, the league has attracted the interest of chess lovers around the world. I am happy for their success and proud they allowed me to play a small part with the Wesley So Cup.”

So added, “It is painful that the present worldwide situation has caused so much disruption and anxiety in our lives and our careers. Hopefully, the stress of these difficult times will make us all stronger. Maybe we, chess players, could lead the way. Make good decisions. Play fair.” –